Guy Gear

Pocketknives and multitools buying guide

A quality knife or multitool is one of the handiest things you can carry in your pack. It’ll help you spread peanut butter, carve a tent stake, fillet a rainbow trout, maybe even save your life. But you have to pick the right tool for the job.

Outdoor survival expert Peter Kummerfeldt will show you how.



There are several types of knives. Kummerfeldt’s favorite, fixed blades, are no-nonsense knives with a beefy handle and stationary blade.

“You need a knife to accomplish the everyday tasks you come across in the outdoors, from whittling on things and cutting materials to spreading peanut butter on your sandwiches,” he says. “And a short, no more than four-inch-long, fixed-blade knife will accomplish all of that.” Avoid large sheath knives; they are heavy and awkward to carry.

Then there are all-purpose folding pocketknives. Most come with tools such as a can opener, screwdriver, tweezers and, of course, knife blades — all in one compact package. Though they can be extremely handy, Kummerfeldt says a downside is the knife blade doesn’t lock into place, so it may fold up on your hand while you’re using it.

Lockbacks are simple folding knives with a single blade that can be locked. So you get the benefits of a sturdy fixed blade-style knife but in a convenient pocket-size package that can be folded open with just one hand.

You’ll also find specialty knives such as river rescue knives with serrated blades for slicing rope, whittling knives designed for carving wood, and multitools, which are compact, handheld tool boxes. Most are built around a pair of folding pliers.


Most blades are made from strong and durable stainless steel. Blades are available in straight edge, serrated (jagged like a saw) or both. Bigger is not always better. A small, sharp four-inch-or-smaller blade can cut just as well as bigger knives but is much safer to handle and easier to maneuver in tight spots.


You don’t have to spend a fortune to get a quality tool.

“My $15 knife does everything I want it to do,” Kummerfeldt says.

As prices go up, you’ll see small improvements in the quality and size of the blade.


“The only good knife is a sharp knife,” Kummerfeldt says. “A blunt knife requires you to put so much force on it that it could slip, and you could drive the blade into your leg.”

As needed, run the edge of your blade across a sharpening stone a few times. Wipe the tool clean after every use and lubricate any hinges with a light oil like WD-40.


Kummerfeldt says the smartest, safest place to stash your knife is in an easy-access spot in your backpack. You’re asking for trouble by wearing a fixed-blade knife on your belt. If you fall, the knife could rotate inward and you could land right on the blade.


You did it! You finally earned your Whittling Chip or Totin’ Chip, and your parents gave you the green light to get a new knife. Now’s the really tough part: figuring out which one you should get. There’s a dizzying number of options out there, but your Gear Guy did the shopping for you to bring you eight great and affordable knives and multitools.

WAIT! Although the following are still great knives and multitools, the Gear Guy is currently researching new models. Watch for his updated reviews in the December 2014 issue of Boys’ Life.

Comments about “Pocketknives and multitools buying guide”

  1. Dull Knife says:

    I have a serrated knife and it isn’t the best knife for cutting rope, but when it comes to cutting wood this knife does a fine job.

  2. drummerboy16 says:

    I got my pocketknife from my dad its worth maybe 5 bucks but its still a really good knife

  3. fisher man says:

    make sure you know what your geting, be sure it does what you want it to do and it’s under $25.00

  4. goshboy says:

    Pocket-knifes are really dangerous if you don’t no how to use it.

  5. Boy Scout # 3694 says:


  6. Boy Scout # 3694 says:

    I say step aside all other knives. The true penknife has arrived because I have in my possesion The (Drum Roll) Wenger Giant Swiss Army Knife™ V1.0


  7. Pi lover says:

    All those knives sound really cool and expincive,but they don’t stay sharp allthat long.

    I have 3 knives a swiss army and anouther one given to me by my neighbor,but I just bought a scout knife.It is awsome!

  8. Anonymous says:


  9. J.J. says:

    I have a Spyderco lockable blade knife and it is just good for everything.

  10. bigfoot 2 says:

    My friends bought switchblades in Scout Camp at Ma-Ka-Ja-Wan. I believe they are illegal in my state, but they still use them on camp outs. I wish i can get one, they seem quite handy, but they could switch out on me accidentally, in addition to their bad rap and history. I’m torn.

  11. nadoe survivor says:

    I love Gerber knives. my only pocket knife was just blown away in the Little Sioux tornadoe and I need a new knife. Any suggestions?

  12. odd man says:

    my friend has a hatchet with a knife in the handle that u just pull out

  13. puff puff jr (poof) says:

    and the normal price of the huntsman is 60 bucks but if u buy it where i showed ya u get it fur 23 bucks sweet eh!

  14. anonomous says:

    If you want a good knife that stays sharp even after a few years within purchase, get a leatherman. They all have great tools and locking systems. A few boy scouts that I know have a leatherman, usually a blast or fuse. I didn’t stop there; I bought the leatherman wave, with a straight knife, serrated knife, needlenose pliers, regular pliers, shear cutters, wire cutters, five screwdrivers, a lanyard ring. scissors, wire stripper, can opener, ruler (inches and centimeters), wood saw, metal saw, diamond coated file, wood/metal file, and a leather sheath.

  15. mysteryman?????? says:

    gerbes are great knives!!!!!!

  16. freezinmunky says:

    Buck is the way to go. I own a Buck 110 folding hunter, and it is the best knife I have. It came presharpened, and it was sharper than my Kershaw. This knife is about $50, but it is worth it. It is a really nice investment.

  17. Me says:

    The cabela’s bargain cave has great deals. I got a Buck Pro Line Knife for $15.00 the normal price is around 40 dolors.

  18. seniorscouter says:

    carbon steel in still the most useful blade, and you can use with flint to strike up a fire

  19. mr. m&m says:

    Kershaw chives are in!

  20. ducky 10444 says:

    hi i think big 5 is the way to go i got an $50.00 knife there for $15.00

  21. irishman says:

    helpful , though i would like to know the features

  22. Turtle says:

    They are the best, and can always get you unstuck or out of trouble

  23. Alee says:

    I think gerber knives are the best, they are sharp, and stay sharp.

  24. LOL says:

    You can get them at Wallmart you know.

  25. Everyone says:

    Leathermans are the best knives in the world. The metal is good. I reccomend the Leatherman Blast Multi-Tool, and the Leatherman e301. Both are locking and the e301 is single blade, although it does have carabiner/bottle opener. I have both and they are very good. They stay sharp and sharpen easily.

  26. girlwithanife says:

    i have a leatherman folding nife, locks in place, liteweight great for serious user. I recomend Leatherman brand nifes.

  27. Lymee says:

    For my Bar Mitztva i got a really good knife that folds out into pliers

  28. PB says:

    My knife is real helpful for carving sticks and surviving in the wild

  29. tails says:

    pick a knife that fits your hand not too big or to small. if you don’t you will get blisters i know from experince.

  30. Pyro says:

    I got a multi-tool for my last birthday and it has been awesome. It does whatever I need it to and it is light. I carry my locking blade knife with me too, it is also very handy, but multi-tools are the way to go.

  31. Pone X says:

    carolina knives r pretty vice along with buck knives i have both

  32. A Proud Swiss Army Owner says:

    Swiss Army Knifes Are The Best!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! : )

  33. Wings says:

    Thats a good deal for a 75-piece tool. Do you know what all the tools are?

  34. Wings says:

    I’ve got a Swiss Army knife. It’s been really helpful on camp-outs and it’s cheep. Another thing that makes it handy is that it’s glow-in-the-dark so I never lose it.

  35. love guns says:

    swiss army knifes are asome!

  36. knifey says:

    what knife for 15 bucks?

    it would be kool to see some knife reviews.

  37. Excille says:

    A lock blade can be good when using your knife point (such as when whittling holes in things), however, for simple woodcarving and ninety percent of the other uses of a pocket knife a standard folding blade is generally fine, especially if you practice standard knife safety when using it. I’ve carried a knife for over 20 years and while I have cut myself on occasion, can’t remember a single time it’s been because the blade folded on me. (Though I do have a friend who buried his blade in his thigh because he was playing with the locking feature).

    As for the huge multi-tools, ensure that the handle isn’t too big to be unwieldly. The fatter the ‘pocket’ knife, the easier it can be for it to slip out of your hand while using it, meaning the more ‘uses’ advertised, the less useful it can sometimes become.

  38. scout3 says:

    If you get a pocket or folding knife it should have a lock-blade feature. You can get a bad cut from it folding up on you if you don’t. I prefure one bladed lock blades or fixed blades.

  39. knife says:

    i have a really nice pocket knife

  40. TimeRider says:

    The Gerber multitools are very well rated I carry the proscout 600 . I also carry a Benchmade 705 that does every thing I need. Sadly they no longer make this one. Check EBAY. I chose these after reading a survival website.

  41. CB says:

    Get an old one

  42. knifeman says:

    i keep all my knives at razor blade quality

  43. bleach-fan-:) says:

    have u herad about the $1000 75-peice multitool?

  44. cjax says:

    for knifes i like just a single blade fine edge knife that is always razor sharp.

  45. Master3796 says:

    Cool. I have a nice knife. I love it.

  46. SAGe says:

    which one is better the multi-tools with pliers or all-purpose folding pocketknives?

  47. ? says:

    I suggest a knife that small & light weight + it should have a lock blade.

    Some of these can be found at most sporting good stores.

  48. Joe says:

    I have a nice and sharp pocketknife

  49. starwarsfan says:

    I love knives! there one of my faverate thihgs to collect.

  50. $ says:


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